Earth Science

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Earth Science

    Earth Science

    Table of Contents

    Unit 1: Properties of Earth’s Materials ........................................................................................1

    Unit 2: Earth’s Place In The Universe ........................................................................................ 16

    Unit 3: Earth’s Atmosphere............................................................................................................ 26

    Unit 4: Plate Tectonics ...................................................................................................................... 36

    Unit 5: Earth’s Biography ............................................................................................................... 43

    Louisiana Comprehensive Curriculum, Revised 2008

    Course Introduction

The Louisiana Department of Education issued the Comprehensive Curriculum in 2005. The

    curriculum has been revised based on teacher feedback, an external review by a team of content experts from outside the state, and input from course writers. As in the first edition, the Louisiana Comprehensive Curriculum, revised 2008 is aligned with state content standards, as

    defined by Grade-Level Expectations (GLEs), and organized into coherent, time-bound units with sample activities and classroom assessments to guide teaching and learning. The order of

    the units ensures that all GLEs to be tested are addressed prior to the administration of iLEAP


District Implementation Guidelines

    Local districts are responsible for implementation and monitoring of the Louisiana

    Comprehensive Curriculum and have been delegated the responsibility to decide if

    ; units are to be taught in the order presented

    ; substitutions of equivalent activities are allowed

    ; GLES can be adequately addressed using fewer activities than presented

    ; permitted changes are to be made at the district, school, or teacher level Districts have been requested to inform teachers of decisions made.

Implementation of Activities in the Classroom

    Incorporation of activities into lesson plans is critical to the successful implementation of the Louisiana Comprehensive Curriculum. Lesson plans should be designed to introduce students to one or more of the activities, to provide background information and follow-up, and to prepare students for success in mastering the Grade-Level Expectations associated with the activities. Lesson plans should address individual needs of students and should include processes for re-teaching concepts or skills for students who need additional instruction. Appropriate accommodations must be made for students with disabilities.

New Features

    Content Area Literacy Strategies are an integral part of approximately one-third of the activities. Strategy names are italicized. The link (view literacy strategy descriptions) opens a document

    containing detailed descriptions and examples of the literacy strategies. This document can also be accessed directly at

A Materials List is provided for each activity and Blackline Masters (BLMs) are provided to

    assist in the delivery of activities or to assess student learning. A separate Blackline Master document is provided for each course.

The Access Guide to the Comprehensive Curriculum is an online database of

    suggested strategies, accommodations, assistive technology, and assessment options that may provide greater access to the curriculum activities. The Access

    Guide will be piloted during the 2008-2009 school year in Grades 4 and 8, with other grades to be added over time. Click on the Access Guide icon found on the first page of

    each unit or by going directly to the url

    Louisiana Comprehensive Curriculum, Revised 2008

    Earth Science

    Unit 1: Properties of Earth’s Materials

Time Frame: 5 weeks

Unit Description

    The focus of this unit is on the physical and chemical properties of planet Earth, including components of Earth’s lithosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere, cryosphere, and limited aspects of the biosphere, with special emphasis on the lithosphere. The structure of molecules, minerals, rocks, mountains, and water and is explored and students are engaged in activities that emphasize the “interconnectedness” of the many aspects of Earth’s materials.

Student Understandings

Students will be able to explain that physical properties of Earth’s materials are

    determined by the kind and arrangement of the atoms that comprise them. They will be able to relate common rock and mineral properties to their environments of formation. Students will be able to discuss the relative importance of certain chemical elements, particularly oxygen, in each of the spheres. They should be able to summarize how these elements move and are cycled through Earth’s processes over time. Students will also gain experience in using physical rock and mineral properties to make informed consumer decisions.

Guiding Questions

    1. Can students describe each of the spheres of Earth?

    2. Can students identify the common elements that are present in each of the

    spheres of Earth?

    3. Can students provide examples of places where the spheres interact and

    elements are exchanged?

    4. Can students explain the properties of water that make it unique and how that

    uniqueness chemically affects other substances like salt, for example?

    5. Can students relate the presence of oxygen in each of the spheres of Earth to

    the abundance of silicate minerals in Earth’s crust?

    6. Can students trace the movement of carbon atoms through the spheres of


    7. Can students relate the atomic arrangement of selected minerals to their

    crystal forms?

    8. Can students interpret Bowen’s Reaction Series and classify a group of

    igneous rocks by environment of formation?

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    Louisiana Comprehensive Curriculum, Revised 2008

    9. Can students describe the relationships among color, texture and cooling rate

    of igneous rocks?

    10. Can students compare the structure and formation of clastic and nonclastic

    sedimentary rocks?

    11. Can students distinguish between foliated and nonfoliated metamorphic rocks

    and relate them to their mineral composition?

    12. Can students trace the changes a rock would undergo as it experienced the

    processes in the rock cycle?

    13. Can students use what they have learned about the composition and physical

    properties of rocks and minerals in a real-life decision-making scenario?

Unit 1 Grade-Level Expectations

GLE # GLE Text and Benchmarks

    Science as Inquiry

    The Abilities Necessary to Do Scientific Inquiry

    2. Describe how investigations can be observation, description, literature survey,

    classification, or experimentation (SI-H-A2)

    3. Plan and record step-by-step procedures for a valid investigation, select

    equipment and materials, and identify variables and controls (SI-H-A2)

    5. Utilize mathematics, organizational tools, and graphing skills to solve problems


    6. Use technology when appropriate to enhance laboratory investigations and

    presentations of findings (SI-H-A3)

    7. Choose appropriate models to explain scientific knowledge or experimental

    results (e.g., objects, mathematical relationships, plans, schemes, examples,

    role-playing, computer simulations) (SI-H-A4)

    9. Write and defend a conclusion based on logical analysis of experimental data

    (SI-H- A6) (SI-H-A2)

    Given a description of an experiment, identify appropriate safety measures (SI-10.


    11. Evaluate selected theories based on supporting scientific evidence (SI-H-B1)

16. Use the following rules of evidence to examine experimental results:

    (a) Can an expert's technique or theory be tested, has it been tested, or is it

    simply a subjective, conclusive approach that cannot be reasonably assessed

    for reliability?

    (b) Has the technique or theory been subjected to peer review and publication?

    (c) What is the known or potential rate of error of the technique or theory when


    (d) Were standards and controls applied and maintained?

    (e) Has the technique or theory been generally accepted in the scientific

    community? (SI-H-B5) (SI-H-B1) (SI-H-B4)

Earth Science;Unit 1; Properties of Earth’s Materials 2

    Louisiana Comprehensive Curriculum, Revised 2008

    GLE # GLE Text and Benchmarks

    Earth Science

    13. Explain how stable elements and atoms are recycled during natural geologic

    processes (ESS-H-B1)

    14. Compare the conditions of mineral formation with weathering resistance at

    Earth’s surface (ESS-H-B1)

    22. Analyze data related to a variety of natural processes to determine the time

    frame of the changes involved (e.g., formation of sedimentary rock layers,

    deposition of ash layers, fossilization of plant or animal species) (ESS-H-C5)

    Sample Activities

Opening Safety Exercise: Using Equipment Safely

    Materials List: samples of equipment used in course, including safety eyewear, poster paper, reference materials, laboratory safety contract such as the Sample Laboratory Safety Contract BLM (one per student)

    Students will observe and become acquainted with selected equipment that will be used in laboratory activities during the year. After this introduction, small cooperative groups will each choose one piece of critical equipment such as rock hammer, cold chisel, Bunsen burner, HCl, or other equipment and materials, and develop a safety plan for use of that equipment. The project should include all aspects of safe use, including appropriate uses, safe handling, storage, and other safety devices necessary in conjunction with its use. (For example, safe use of a rock hammer requires wearing protective eyewear.) Groups will present their plans to the class upon completion. The project should include a poster suitable for display in the classroom as a component of a yearlong safety focus. In addition to other elements of the project, groups should submit five multiple-choice assessment items derived from the content of their presentation. Each group will submit a copy of their list of five assessment items and the text of their presentation on their due date. During the presentations, remaining students should use split-page note-taking (view literacy strategy descriptions). In this note-taking strategy

    students fold a sheet of lined paper down the center to create two columns. The name of each piece of equipment should be written in the left column and the key information related to that item should be written alongside it in the right column. A whole-class assessment constructed from the student-developed items can be administered at a convenient time after all groups have made their presentations. Students should be given a copy of a safety contract such as the Sample Laboratory Safety Contract BLM included in this unit, to sign, take home for parental signature, return, and keep as a record of their having received safety instruction before hands-on activities begin.

Earth Science;Unit 1; Properties of Earth’s Materials 3

    Louisiana Comprehensive Curriculum, Revised 2008

    Activity 1: The Dynamic Nature of Earth Materials-A First Look (SI GLEs: 5,6;

    ESS GLEs: 13 14)

    Materials List: Earth material such as soil, sand, water, etc. in sufficient quantity for all students to receive a small sample and a container such as film canister, student-provided equipment and technology, as appropriate

    Each student should be given a small quantity of a common Earth material, such as a small rock, a small pile of soil or sand, and a small container (film canister) of water. All students should receive the same kind of sample. Students will take their sample home and change it safely in several different ways. It will be necessary for the teacher to discuss examples of what kinds of changes would be considered reasonably safe in a home environment, The students should be instructed to record the procedures they used, the technology or equipment involved, and what safety precautions were taken. Their record should include a description of changes they caused, how they were caused, and what the material looked like after each change. Students can be instructed to use a graphic organizer (view literacy strategy descriptions) chart to represent their findings.

    A graphic organizer is a communication tool that uses visual symbols to express ideas and concepts, illustrating the relationships between facts, terms, and or ideas within a learning task. The graphic organizer for this activity can take the shape of a table, flow

    chart, diagram, or illustration, but it should in some way record the students’ procedures

    and the changes that resulted. They are to record any other ways in which they think the earth material might have changed that were not so obvious.

    Samples should be returned, earth materials and recorded findings examined by everyone, and the changes discussed. Students should be encouraged to think about any stable elements and/or atoms that were recycled during their experiment and be prompted to suggest natural processes that could have caused similar changes. This activity provides a common experience with an earth material that can be referenced during subsequent lessons related to earth materials and processes. The teacher should accept the questions that may arise without attempting to answer all of them. At this time the students should be generating questions to which they may be able to discover their own answers at a later date. This activity should be the starting point for students to create and maintain an

    (view literacy strategy descriptions). The “Earth “Earth Journal” as a learning log

    Journal” learning log is an ongoing, written document, possibly in a notebook format, that allows students to record what they are learning about rocks, minerals, other earth materials, and the processes that change them in their own words and with their own diagrams. Students should be given time to make entries in their learning logs after every

    activity. The teacher should review and comment upon these entries on a regular basis.

Earth Science;Unit 1; Properties of Earth’s Materials 4

    Louisiana Comprehensive Curriculum, Revised 2008

    Activity 2: Spheres of Earth and their Common Elements (SI GLEs: 5, 7; ESS GLE: 13)

    Materials List: photos, images, or pictures (enough for each small group to have one); Earth Spheres BLM (one per group)

    As an introduction to the concept of “spheres” of Earth, interfaces between spheres, and elements that are exchanged between spheres, students should examine a variety of photos, images, or pictures that illustrate any of the zones of contact (interfaces) among lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, cryosphere, and biosphere. In a “think-pair-share”

    arrangement, the students should select an image, identify each interface they observe, describe each of the two spheres the interface separates, and suggest some elements that could be exchanged between the two spheres. Once groups of three to four students have shared and combined their observations, they can transfer their information to the graphic

    organizer (view literacy strategy descriptions), included with this activity, see Earth

    Spheres BLM. Each circle represents one of the spheres, and an arrow drawn between

    two circles indicates an interface between those two spheres. The names of elements, molecules, or chemicals exchanged at the interface should be written on the arrow line

    connecting the two circles. An example can be found on the diagram. Groups present

    their diagrams and discuss them with the class. This activity could begin with a single image used with the whole class participation as guided practice and then move on to the use of several images by smaller groups. The completed diagram is the product of this activity and can be graded using the Earth Spheres Activity Assessment Rubric BLM. Reference to the previous earth material activity can provide additional practice or reinforcement.

Activity 3: Unique Properties of Water (SI GLE: 7; ESS GLE: 13)

    Materials List: rock salt or salt grains, large beaker, tap water to fill beaker almost full

    Students are engaged by showing them a small pile of unknown white crystals (salt) and asking them to suggest ways the pile could be made to disappear before their eyes. Use of “rock salt” like that used in ice cream machines instead of table salt may heighten

    student curiosity as it is less likely that they will immediately recognize the substance as salt. After discussing and (if practical) trying several of their suggestions, the teacher takes out a large beaker of water, pours in the salt and stirs the water. The salt will dissolve and disappear. A discussion should follow as to what really happened to the salt crystals and why. The water molecule should be diagrammed and the dipolar nature of this universal solvent emphasized. Then, as students locate sodium and chlorine on the periodic table and discuss how the ionic bond is formed between them to produce sodium chloride, they should be able to understand how the water actually dissolves the salt.

    Students will draw the water molecules on small index cards, identifying their positive and negative ends with + and - signs. Students will also draw the ionic bonds of sodium chloride, identifying its positive and negative ends. A role-playing activity can allow Earth Science;Unit 1; Properties of Earth’s Materials 5

    Louisiana Comprehensive Curriculum, Revised 2008

    students to act out physically the pulling apart (dissolving) of the salt crystals by the water molecules.

Activity 4: Oxygen as A Common Element (SI GLEs: 5, 6, 9; ESS GLE: 13)

Materials List: print and electronic resources

     DR-TA (Directed Reading Thinking Activity) (Before beginning thisview literacy

    strategy descriptions) students should be engaged in a discussion and prediction of which is the most common element found in earth’s lithosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, and

    atmosphere. A DR-TA activity invites students to make predictions and check the

    accuracy of their predictions during subsequent reading. All predictions can be combined in a master list and kept for comparison after the activity. Students should be encouraged to share the reasoning behind their predictions.

    The activity: Groups of students will use all available print and electronic resources (Internet, textbook, and library) to identify and chart the most common elements (such as oxygen, carbon, silicon, nitrogen) in Earth’s lithosphere, cryosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere. Using the information they have collected, students should be able to write a brief explanation of why minerals containing oxygen (silicates) are the most common by volume and weight in the Earth’s crust. They can also be encouraged to make further predictions about the presence of oxygen in Earth’s interior layers.

Activity 5: Recycling of Carbon (SI GLEs: 2, 5, 9; ESS GLEs: 13, 22)

Materials List: Anticipation Guide: What Do You Know About Carbon? BLM (copies for

    each student), print and electronic resources, poster paper, markers for small groups

    view literacy strategy The teacher will engage students by creating an anticipation guide (

    descriptions) such as Anticipation Guide: What Do You Know About Carbon? BLM. An

    anticipation guide is a type of opinionnaire that can be used with fact-based content

    material. This anticipation guide requires students to predict where carbon is found in

    Earth’s five spheres, either in pure form or in chemical compounds, and use their own reasoning to defend their predictions. As the activity progresses, students should have several opportunities to return to their initial predictions to correct misconceptions and add factual information. Upon completion of the anticipation guides, small groups of

    students will use print and electronic resources to gather information related to one example of carbon cycling and present it to the class as a flow chart to illustrate how the carbon moves from one sphere to another. Groups should be encouraged to choose examples from different spheres so a more complete and detailed carbon cycle can be illustrated after all groups have shared their findings. Students can compare their diagrams to more sophisticated Carbon Cycle diagrams such as those found in the references listed at the end of this unit. Students should include in their discussions both the long and short time frames for partial and completed cycling of carbon through and Earth Science;Unit 1; Properties of Earth’s Materials 6

    Louisiana Comprehensive Curriculum, Revised 2008

    between the spheres. Students should refer to their initial anticipation guide at the end of

    the activity to be sure they have identified and corrected misconceptions and incorrect information.

Activity 6: Atomic Arrangement and Crystal Form (SI GLEs: 2, 5, 7, ESS GLE: 13)

    Materials List: diagrams or models of the six crystal systems; unlined paper; modeling materials such as pretzels, marshmallow, toothpicks, small polystyrene balls, cotton balls, etc.; protractors; mineral crystal samples such as quartz, halite, calcite, pyrite

    This activity should follow an introduction to the formation of mineral crystals during rock cycling processes and the six mineral crystal systems used as one means of mineral classification. If possible, students should construct paper models of the six basic shapes during the introduction. They can then readily recognize the cubic crystals of halite or pyrite and the hexagonal crystals of quartz. Students can use simple materials such as marshmallows and pretzel sticks or toothpicks and foam balls to construct silica tetrahedral and arrange them into chains, double chains, sheets, and even basic networks to create visual representations of several crystalline forms. Then, given several appropriate silicate mineral samples of halite, pyrite, muscovite, and quartz, they should be able to recognize the appropriate model for each mineral. The muscovite will be the easiest to recognize, and a discussion of the strong bonds within the sheets and weak bonds between the sheets is important.

    Students should have an opportunity to share the thinking they used in identification and explain and defend their answers. A follow up activity in which students use protractors to measure the angles between faces of crystals such as quartz, calcite, and pyrite or halite and then use those measurements to identify the crystal system of each sample will reinforce the relationship between atomic structure and physical form of minerals. Special attention must be give to help students avoid the confusion between crystal faces and cleavage planes. Students should understand that cleavage planes are zones of weakness in atomic bonds, and extend through the entire sample, while crystal faces are only surface features.

Activity 7: Bowen’s Reaction Series (SI GLEs: 7, 9; ESS GLE: 14)

Materials List: copy of Bowen’s Reaction Series chart (see online references at the end of

    this unit for choices); igneous rock samples such as basalt, dunite, diorite, granite, gabbro

    In the activity students will be given a labeled group of several igneous rocks (e.g., dunite, basalt, diorite, and graniteor any combination available), the chemical formula for each mineral, and a copy of a Bowen’s Reaction Series chart. Small group discussion should

    follow and students should arrange the rocks (or names on the list) in order, from those solidifying at highest temperatures to those that solidify last at the lowest temperatures based upon mineral position on the Bowen’s chart. Student groups should be able to provide reasonable explanations for their arrangement when shared with the class. Open Earth Science;Unit 1; Properties of Earth’s Materials 7

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